[INDOLOGY] Publication announcement

Petra Kieffer-Pülz kiepue at t-online.de
Wed Jan 30 10:28:16 UTC 2019



Dear List Members,

I would like to draw your attention to the most recent number of Buddhism, Law & Society Vol. 3 (2017–2018), a SPECIAL VOLUME ON MONASTIC GOVERNANCE IN SOUTH AND SOUTHEAST ASIA. For the contents, see below

With best wishes,

Petra Kieffer-Pülz



Ben Schonthal, Guest Editor’s Introduction: Buddhist Legal Pluralism? Looking Again at Monastic Governance in Modern South and Southeast Asia.

Abstract: Contrary to popular stereotypes, Buddhist monks do not live in separate, cloistered worlds sealed off from domestic and international lawmaking, courts and politics. Buddhist monks (like most people) live in a complex situation of legal pluralism. They act as agents and subjects in multiple regulatory regimes: from monastic tribunals, to constitutional law, to transnational legal bodies. This article, which introduces a special issue of Buddhism, Law & Society, identifies several foci of inquiry that may orient current and future scholarship on the legal pluralism of Buddhist monastic life in contemporary Southern Asia. These include: the prevalence of “hybrid” laws that merge together monastic and state authority; the participation of monks in lawmaking and adjudication; the significance of monasticism as a legal status; the reproduction of legal authority through ordination and lineage; the multiplicity of monastic disciplinary ‘texts’ beyond the Vinaya Piṭaka; and the transformations (and endurances) of legal pluralism over time.

Matthew Walton and Aung Tun, Monks and Ambiguities of Law in Myanmar.

Abstract: In this article, we look at four recent case studies in Myanmar, moments of contestation over legal authority in which monks or monkled groups challenged the boundaries or principles of monastic authority, intervened in the realm of secular law, were constrained by both religious and secular authorities, or found ways to challenge or circumvent those authorities. We argue that these moments of contestation are enabled by the democratic reforms taking place unevenly across Myanmar’s political terrain, which have generated opportunities for the state to intervene in monastic affairs and created possibilities for religious actors to influence the state and civil laws. These cases demonstrate the limits of formal monastic authority and reveal ambiguities in civil and religious jurisdiction over mass-membership lay-monastic organizations such as 969 and Ma Ba Tha.

Monica Lindberg Falk and Hiroko Kawanami, Monastic Discipline and Communal Rules for Buddhist Nuns in Myanmar and Thailand.

Abstract: This study explores the contemporary social reality of Buddhist precept nuns in Myanmar and Thailand through the lens of the monastic regulations and communal rules they adhere to, and how/if such rules inform their monastic discipline and communal cohesion. The concept of cohesion, in turn, may have much to tell us about nuns’ ritual practices and religious activities in relation to those of monks, as well as about their engagement with the outside world. The article also discusses nuns’ legal status in relation to the state, the traditional norms for Buddhist women in various socio-religious contexts, and the workings of hierarchy, authority and punishment in nunneries. In recent decades, some Buddhist nuns in both countries have expanded the size of their communities and enhanced their levels of education in part by upholding discipline and following Buddhist rules and norms. However, the dynamics differ between Myanmar and Thailand. While thilashin in Myanmar have worked closely with monks by offering ritual services (and are now fully integrated into the wider Buddhist community there), mae chi in Thailand have enhanced their education and spiritual development by making the most of their independent status outside the control of the sangha.

 Ben Schonthal, Litigating Vinaya: Buddhist Law and Public Law in Contemporary Sri Lanka.

Abstract: How do contemporary legal systems affect the interpretation and application of religious laws such as Buddhist monastic law? What happens when Buddhists turn to public litigation to dispute the meanings of the Vinaya Piṭaka, the monastic disciplinary code? This article answers these questions by looking closely at recent court cases from Sri Lanka. It argues against the influential assumption that contemporary legal regimes stabilize and narrow interpretations of religious law. It illustrates instead how certain domains of modern legality, especially constitutional law, create new opportunities, spaces and incentives for destabilizing and pluralizing the interpretation of religious norms. Drawing on original legal submissions, draft bills, interviews and other sources from the “expanded archive” of law, I explain why the use of constitutional law has broadened debates about Buddhist monastic law, its core rules, key texts and regulatory role in the modern world.

Thomas Borchert and Susan M. Darlington, Political Disrobing in Thailand.

Abstract: Thai monks disrobe all the time as a part of the normal course of things. Normally this is a result of life choices made by monks themselves, but sometimes disrobing is compelled. Monks are forced to disrobe ostensibly because they committed an infraction of the disciplinary codes of Buddhism, the Vinaya. However, in this paper we argue that this compelled disrobing is not so straightforward but the product of political efforts to remove a monk who is seen as an obstacle to achieving some sort of political goal or a threat to political power. Further we argue that the legal environment, with monks being governed by a sometimes confusing mix of religious and secular laws, makes possible the use of disrobing as a political tool.

Michael R. Chladek. Imagined Laity and the Performance of Monasticism in Northern Thailand.

Abstract: This article explores ways in which a monastic community in northern Thailand, with whom I conducted ethnographic field research between 2011 and 2014, constructed a sense of duty to their ascetic disciplines in relation to how they thought their lay supporters expected them to approach their rules. Drawing on insights from the social sciences on how group identities are created and maintained through performance, I focus particularly on lay-monastic relations to understand how monks and novices in this context construct a monastic in-group by conforming to the expectations of the lay community who support them. Rather than concentrating on how the monastic community engages the actual lay community, though, I focus on how monastics orient their behavior towards an “imagined laity,” a lay community which may not exist in reality but upon whom monastics project ideas of what they think laypeople expect out of them and how laity may react to certain behaviors. This projection of expectations onto an imagined laity, I argue, is an important mechanism by which the monastic community self-regulates its behavior and which shapes its understanding of monastic rules.

Gregory Kourilsky and Patrice Ladwig, Governing the Monastic Order in Laos: Pre-modern Buddhist Legal Traditions and Their Transformation under French Colonialism.

Abstract: Governing and administering the saṅgha has been described as an inherent part of the enactment of Buddhist statecraft in the pre-modern Theravāda world. With the development of modern forms of statehood under colonialism, however, new forms of governing evolved. Focusing on the pre-modern and colonial phases, this article discusses the laws and procedures that were deployed in Laos for governing the saṅgha. We first give an outline of the pre-modern laws that concern monks and the order of monks, and in the second part explore how these laws were adapted and modified by the French colonial regime. Despite the introduction of modern forms of governance, we propose that there are also strong continuities to be found. Colonial laws for the saṅgha were not simply imposed as legal transplants but were the outcome of complex negotiations between French and Lao leading to an acceptable “hybrid” law that provoked little resistance.

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